By Ron Price
To some, emotional intelligence (or EQ) can sound like the modern version of standing in a circle holding hands and singing kumbaya.
Many people undervalue the significance of developing emotional intelligence as part of professional development. However, there is an abundance of research that indicates this type of thinking isn’t very intelligent.
It turns out that the single most important element in a group’s intelligence is not the average IQ, but instead the emotional intelligence of the group. A single participant who has low EQ can lower the collective IQ of the entire group.
At L’Oreal, employees selected on the basis of certain emotional competencies sold
$91,370 more than salespeople who were hired using the company’s old selection process. This increased net revenue by $2.5 million. Not only that, but employees selected on the basis of emotional competence also had 63% less turnover during the first year than those selected in the old way (Spencer & Spencer, Competence at Work: Models for Superior Performance).
After supervisors at a manufacturing plant received training in emotional competencies, such as how to listen better and help employees resolve problems on their own, lost-time accidents were reduced by 50%, formal grievances were reduced from an average of 15 per year to 3 per year, and the plant exceeded productivity goals by $250,000 (Psuric & Byham, The New Look of Behavior Modeling).
“The higher the rank of a person considered to be a star performer, the more emotional intelligence capabilities showed up as the reason for his or her effectiveness. When I compared star performers with average ones in senior leadership positions, nearly 90% of the difference in their profiles was attributable to emotional intelligence factors rather than cognitive abilities,” says Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence.
In a study published in Harvard Business Review, David McClelland found that when senior managers had a critical mass of emotional intelligence capabilities, their divisions outperformed yearly earnings goals by 20%. Meanwhile, division leaders without that critical mass underperformed by almost the same amount.
If these results don’t pique your interest about EQ, how to measure and how to develop it, there isn’t any reason to read on.
EQ is the ability to understand and use the power of emotions to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity. Stated another way, EQ means that you understand yourself and others well, and you use this awareness to create much greater results.
EQ begins with understanding your own strengths, weaknesses, values and goals. This deep level of self-awareness leads to gaining control over your emotional triggers (self regulation) and a high drive to achieve (motivation). In addition to knowing and mastering your own emotions, EQ includes high levels of empathy. This is the ability to understand the feelings and needs of others. When this connection with others is combined with social skills, such as the ability to influence, lead and develop others, high productivity is the natural result.
Most people recognize that to become proficient working with a piece of equipment, they need to develop an understanding of the equipment, to practice with it, and to often have someone mentor them in how to use it. Yet, with human beings who are much more complex than any piece of equipment, we often assume we “get it” and we don’t need any formal training or mentoring. But the statistics don’t lie.
Emotional intelligence isn’t a luxury tool you can dispense with in tough times. It’s a basic tool that, deployed with finesse, is the key to professional success.
Emotional intelligence cannot be “taught” in the traditional training found in a classroom. Research has uncovered a simple pathway to growing high levels of EQ.
First, we must be motivated. A person needs to want to change how they interact with and influence others.
Second, a student of EQ needs to engage in “deliberate practice.” In his book, Talent is Overrated, Geoff Colvin rightly points out that deliberate practice is made up of three realities: First, you have to practice the right activities the right way (or you reinforce bad habits the more you practice, making the fix even harder). Second, you have to practice repeatedly to master anything of significance. Finally, practice in and of itself is rarely enjoyable. Without a goal to reach for, it is almost impossible to practice with the precision, discipline and consistency necessary to develop high EQ.
Finally, developing high levels of EQ requires soliciting and receiving constant feedback. It cannot be accomplished alone. Those who develop the most emotional intelligence do it with someone trained in EQ to mentor, guide and measure their progress.
In one study, behavioral improvements after traditional classroom training improved by 10% after two years. For those who received ongoing feedback and reinforcement from an EQ qualified coach, the improvements were 47% for their intrapersonal skills (self awareness, self regulation, motivation) and 75% for their interpersonal skills (empathy, social skills).
Because EQ is about intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, most people think they can informally discover and develop it. If you already have high EQ, wonderful. If you could benefit from improving your self-awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills, then EQ mentoring may be the key to top performance for you.
To talk more about emotional intelligence, reach out to Ron at firstname.lastname@example.org.